Money at 30: Hurdlr Review — How Does it Compare to Quickbooks Self-Employed?
Love it or hate it, the gig economy has changed the way millions of Americans manage their money. While many of us may be used to having taxes withheld from our paychecks and only filing returns once a year, those who are technically self-employed need to consider their taxes throughout the year — not only because they may be required to make quarterly estimated payments but also because they may be overlooking deductions along the way. That’s likely why we’ve seen an influx in apps and tools aimed at these independent workers. Among these tools is Hurdlr.
So what is Hurdlr and what does it offer to self-employed 1099ers? Let’s take a close look at the features of Hurdlr, how it stacks up to the competition, and more.
What is Hurdlr?
Hurdlr is a tool for freelancers, entrepreneurs, gig economy workers, and others to easily keep track of their expenses, mileage deductions, and more. The app utilizes a “freemium” option, allowing users to either retain a scaled-down free version of the app or upgrade to unlock additional features. Paid subscriptions cost $7.99 a month or $59.99 for a year, which brings the cost down to around $5 a month when paid annually.
The free version of Hurdlr
As I mentioned, Hurdlr is free to download. Additionally there are a few features you can access without a subscription. This includes the ability to manually track mileage, manually add expense transactions, and manually add income. Surely you’re sensing a theme here — that being “manual.” In order to unlock many of Hurdlr’s best features and bring it closer to what Quickbooks or others would offer, you’ll need to upgrade.
That said, if you’re just looking for a way to keep track of your business mileage and perhaps even digitize some of your receipts, that’s all possible with Hurdlr. However I suspect most users will at least want to try out the premium offerings. Thus, for the rest of this review, we’ll be discussing features found in the paid version of the app.
Among the most popular features on Hurdlr is there automatic mileage tracking. Just as it sounds, this tool makes it easier to log your driving trips and categorize them as business or personal. Even better, labeling them as business also allows you to see how these trips turn into business deductions on your taxes.
Beyond the auto feature, you can also add trips manually by either tapping the “Start Tracker” button or entering all of the details after the fact. Hurdlr can also integrate with Siri so that you can prompt the digital assistant to start trips for you as well. No matter how you track your miles, all of your stats, such as your number of tips, total miles, and deductions, will show at the top of the mileage tab.
Next to the mileage tracking tool is the expenses tab. Here you can view various transactions and categorize them as either business or personal. Additionally you can attach photos of your receipts to transactions, split them between categories, and more.
To get the most out of this section, you’ll first need to connect your financial accounts, such as checking accounts and credit cards. Doing this will then allow Hurdlr to automatically update with your new transactions. However, if you make cash transactions or use a card you don’t have linked, you can always manually add transactions.
Hurdlr’s expense tracking is quite similar to Quickbooks Self-Employed’s in several ways. First, to categorize transactions in the app, you’ll either swipe left to label as “personal” or swipe right to label as “business” (funny enough, this is actually backward from the set-up Quickbooks has). Another similarity is in the ability to create rules for your transactions. For example, instead of manually marking each Delta transaction as business, you can tap the “Create Rule” button to have Hurdlr label all future Delta transactions accordingly. Even better, you can select to have rules apply retroactively and Hurdlr will recommend rules if you don’t set them up yourself.
If the whole “Tinder for your finances” thing isn’t for you, there’s actually another way to quickly categorize transactions. By tapping the orange circle that appears in the lower right, you can view a list of transactions and mark off several at once to bulk categorize them as business or personal. This is a great option to have if you happen to fall a bit behind and want to get all of your business expenses filed away quickly.
Something that Hurdlr does a bit differently from Quickbooks is that it gives income a dedicated tab instead of including it in the regular transactions section. This is where you’ll find deposits made to your linked bank accounts, which you can then confirm as income or label as personal. Moreover Hurdlr offers additional integrations for this tab beyond your traditional bank accounts. This includes the ability to link accounts from Upwork, Uber, Square, Stripe, PayPal, and more. Personally I didn’t have a chance to try out any of these integrations for myself but I could definitely see where they would come in handy.
This actually isn’t a main tab in Hurdlr and is somewhat hidden but is a tool I feel is worth noting. In Settings (the three-dot line in the upper left corner of the app) you’ll find a Time & Tasks options where you can track how much time you’re spending on tasks, meetings, and more. You can label each task with what client it’s for, add notes, and of course start and stop the timer. These times don’t seem to really factor into other aspects of the app but it is a convenient tool nonetheless.
Reports and taxes
In addition to keeping a running total of your income, deductions, and business expenses Hurdlr will also provide you with estimates of how much you’ll owe on your quarterly and yearly taxes. That said they do explicitly warn that these are merely estimates. On that note, Hurdlr doesn’t provide support for actually paying or filing your taxes. Therefore it’s nice that they also include several report options that you can view and/or email that will help you manage your taxes elsewhere.
Finally I should note that, in addition to the app, you have the ability to request access to a desktop version of Hurdlr. Here you’ll find many of the same features (except for the auto mileage tracker, obviously), including the ability to categorize transactions, view various reports, and more. Plus you can manually add any mileage trips you have missed, utilizing your keyboard instead of your cramped smartphone screen. To me, it’s definitely worth checking out this version of Hurdlr to see which medium you prefer.
The Pros and Cons of Hurdlr
Starting with that I like about Hurdlr, I’d say the app is fairly easy to navigate and is visually appealing. On top of each tab serving a clear purpose and being well placed within the app itself, I appreciated the mechanics of each of these tools on the whole. Particularly I felt that the Expenses tracker was well designed and that Rules worked well once applied.
Another aspect of Hurdlr I really appreciated was the time tracker. In fact I was looking forward to trying this tool out on the desktop version of the app. At first, it didn’t seem like such a feature was included on the website but, when I went back, I manage to locate it. I’m not sure if this was a change that just happened or I somehow just missed it before (very possible) but I’m glad to have it either way.
In terms of minor complaints I have, I wish Hurdlr made it easier to enter driving trips manually. While typing in the total mileage is simple enough, it seems that entering start and end location data could pull from Google Maps data or elsewhere to help you autofill instead of typing everything out entirely (perhaps this extra work is just more incentive to upgrade?). Also, as I noted with Quickbooks Self-Employed, there doesn’t seem to be a way to easily duplicate trips in Hurdlr.
Hurdlr vs. Quickbooks Self-Employed
Since I’ve mentioned Quickbooks Self-Employed (QBSE) a few times now, I thought I’d take a closer look at how the two tools match up. For one, Hurdlr lacks an invoicing option that QBSE has. Additionally Quickbooks has been upping its game with specialty integrations, such as a tool for splitting Amazon transactions, which is something Hurdlr doesn’t have (yet?). I also feel like Quickbooks’ user interface is a bit cleaner than Hurdlr’s — although not by any great length.
At the same time, there are some aspects of Hurdlr that may top Quickbooks. For example, to my knowledge, Quickbooks doesn’t have integrations for Uber, Square, Upwork, etc. If that is the case, that could be a major Hurdlr advantage for some users. And, while it is sadly absent from the desktop version, Hurdlr’s inclusion of a time tracker is a nice touch that I think shows that they understand their market.
Of course another advantage to Hurdlr is that it comes in a bit cheaper than Quickbooks’ base price. Without promotional codes, QBSE is $10 a month (or $17 for the tax bundle) while Hurdlr is $7.99 paid monthly or $4.99 if you pay for a year. With all that said, I’m personally not quite ready to leave QBSE behind in favor of Hurdlr but might reconsider after tax time.
Final Thoughts on Hurdlr
Overall Hurdlr offers a number of helpful features for freelancers, gig economy workers, and other 1099ers. While the free version may be a good backup to have installed just in case you want to jot down a business mileage trip or expense, I think the upgrade is likely worth the price. It may not do everything Quickbooks Self-Employed can do but its pricing reflects that — and it has some of its own unique features to boast. For all of those reasons, if you’re in the market for a tool that will help you organize your business expenses and know what to expect in terms of what you owe in taxes, I think it’s worth giving Hurdlr a look.
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Also published on Medium.